The USS Tolman (DD-740) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades during the middle part of the 20th century. She was named for Commander Charles E. “Spike” Tolman, who commanded the destroyer De Haven in the Solomon Islands during the early part of the Second World War. Tolman was commissioned as an Allen M. Sumner class naval destroyer.
Tolman was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in April 1944, launched in August, and commissioned in October with Commander Clifford A. Johnson in command. Armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, Tolman supported a crew complement of 336.
Tolman operated along the east coast until she sailed for San Diego in January 1945, and continued on to Hawaii as an escort for Birmingham. The destroyer was deployed out of Pearl Harbor in late February to Eniwetok and Ulithi, and then protected minesweepers with anti-submarine activities and fire support in the Ryukyus. In late March, Tolman battled enemy vessels and was near Skylark when a mine detonated and severely damaged that ship. Tolman cleared the area to avoid mines, and then helped rescue 106 survivors.
Tolman endured several enemy air attacks by kamikaze planes, and arrived at Kerama Retto to transfer Skylark’s survivors at the end of the month. She then encountered an enemy torpedo boat and survived to screen Transport Division 17 off Okinawa in April. Later in April, Tolman grounded on a coral reef, was pulled free by tugs, and then was towed to Kerama Retto in May. Tolman set out to sea in late June, and then underwent permanent repairs at San Pedro, California which were completed in November.
Tolman was deployed again to the Far East in December and operated out of Sasebo until February 1946. The destroyer was then shifted to Pusan, Korea for three months, and returned to California in May. Tolman was decommissioned at San Diego at the end of January 1947, reclassified as fast minelayer MMD-28 in January 1969, and struck from the Navy list in December 1970. She was sunk as a training target in January 1997.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Tolman (DD-740)
Nearly every section aboard Tolman was contaminated with asbestos. Engineering areas used asbestos fireproofing and insulation in generators, boilers, engines and turbines. Pumps and valves used asbestos packing. Asbestos insulation was wrapped around steam pipes and installed into many ship compartments.
Asbestos is most dangerous when its fibers are separated and airborne. Breathing air contaminated with asbestos dust can cause mesothelioma. The combat operations of Tolman, especially damage caused by kamikaze aircraft and torpedo attack, likely increased the amount of dangerous asbestos dust on board. As the dangers of asbestos were not fully realized until much later, sailors serving on Tolman had little or no protection against inhaling asbestos fibers.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-740.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd740txt.htm) Retrieved 11 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Tolman (DD-740).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/740.htm) Retrieved 11 February 2011.